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MusicPart of Humanities

Miraculous Performance from Erin Headley and Atalante

Published: 30 July 2012
Caro Sposo

Erin Headley and her group Atalante have released a new CD, based on her research at Southampton during her AHRC Fellowship in the Creative and Performing Arts.

Already praised as "strikingly beautiful" (The Guardian, July 2012), Caro Sposo is the second release in Atalante’s Reliquie di Roma series, following their highly acclaimed first CD, Lamentarium. Both discs pay homage to the virtuous heroines of antiquity.

Caro Sposo is mainly devoted to Marco Marazzoli's Oratorio di Santa Caterina (composed around 1660), which provides a vivid account of the miracle of Catherine of Alexandria. Santa Caterina, sung by soprano Katherine Watson, eloquently counsels the Romans on spiritual love, endures torture and imprisonment, overcomes the killing wheel and finally dies by the sword in triumph and glory.

Marazzoli was a sophisticated master of musical drama. At the heart of the Oratorio di Santa Caterina is an intensely emotional lament of a Roman soldier (‘Piango la mia sventura’). Here the composer specifies lirone accompaniment. Erin Headley is the world's leading exponent of this complex and wonderful stringed instrument, which was widely used to accompany the voice in the 16th and 17th centuries. It was the use of the lirone in Santa Caterina that first prompted Erin to reconstruct a work whose sole surviving source is quite extensively damaged. The effort is entirely justified by an array of ultra-expressive recitatives, outstanding vocal ensembles – including a madrigalesque chorus ending each half – and many compelling arias, all capped by the final sublime, ravishing ‘Caro sposo’.

Atalante's first CD Lamentarium received glowing critical praise ("Breathtaking performances of delicious music" (Gramophone) "One of the best recordings I have hear all year" (MusicWeb International; Outstanding Release International Record Review).
Both CDs are available from Destino Classics and videos of staged performance can be seen here.

Listen to a track from Erin Headley's new CD below:

Caption:"O soave catena" from Marco Marazzoli, Oratorio di Santa Caterina, performed by Atalante on Nimbus Alliance NI 6185 (2012).

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